Three hours after a fire alarm went off inside the Oviatt Library at approximately 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, many students reacted with surprise and fright when CSUN’s Department of Police Services sent out an emergency notification that a man with a gun was seen on campus.
CSUN Police Department sent out emails and phone calls to all students on campus alerting them of a report they received of a man described as being in his early 20s, having a light complexion and five o’ clock shadow, wearing blue jeans, a red t-shirt and black hooded-sweatshirt with a black backpack carrying a silver automatic gun.
The alleged suspect was last seen leaving the lower west doors of the library heading southbound on the Oviatt lawn.
Four suspects matching the description were apprehended and released. No gun was found.
CSUN PD sent its final update at 7:24 p.m. that no arrests had been made, but that campus police would still remain vigilant.
Clarissa Perkins, junior public relations major, was in her principles of public relations class in Oviatt 25 when she received an email about the suspected gunman on campus.
“One of the girls in class raised her hand and told the class about a text message she received,” Perkins said. “And while the teacher tried to get control of the class, the (in-class) phone rang.”
The phone call was an automated message reiterating the email students had received via their CSUN email accounts. The recording did not tell professors to evacuate their classrooms.
“At first I was very, very worried,” Perkins said. “If whomever it was was trying to target students, it would probably be us because we were, to my knowledge, the only class down there.”
Perkins professor, Marcy DeVeaux, dismissed the class after contacting the journalism department and being told that this was the best course of action.
“After they told us that we should leave I felt more nervous because clearly we couldn’t finish the lecture because it was more serious than they let on,” Perkins said. “First they told us that we were safe and then they told us that we should leave.”
Cody Lewin, 25, junior biology major, said that up until CSUN PD emails and phone calls, he was unaware of what was happening.
“I was on the fourth floor taking a nap on the sofa when the (fire) alarm woke me up,” he said.
Burnt popcorn set off the fire alarm three hours earlier in the library, according to Christina Villalobos, public information officer for CSUN PD. Despite the alleged gunman scare, Lewin said he feels safe.
“I’ve been coming here a long time,” he said. “I didn’t feel threatened or anything.”
Alexis Rasten, senior economics major, was not too worried about the CSUN PD notifications.
“I was in the library earlier and was evacuated because the fire alarm went off,” he said. “I wasn’t scared then and wasn’t scared when I got the alert later. But that’s just because I feel like we get false reports all the time.”
Similar to Rasten, several other students were not too worried with the notifications. At the Arbor Grill, Pejmun Adeli, 24, senior accounting major, said he was fine.
“I didn’t feel threatened regardless of recent events because CSUN has had a history of one or two of these occurrences every semester,” he said. “I wasn’t worried.”
But some students were more distressed, such as Avo Kozukarayan, 34, a finance major.
“I think its ridiculous, and people are out of control,” he said. “A place where you get an education should be safe. You should not have to be worried of getting shot or killed”
Kozukarayan was stopped earlier on campus for fitting the description of the suspect. He was asked if he had a gun in his backpack. After saying no, Kozukarayan became more aware how closely he matched the alleged suspect’s description.
“I think they should have evacuated because they know the guy could still be on the campus,” he said. “There should also be a drill in place (for these kind of events.)”
Contributing reporting from Muna Adem, Melanie Gaball and Champaign Williams
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